Despite their different social class Ruby and Boake grew up together in the 1950s North Carolina. Ruby Corey lived with her poor family in the swamps while Boake Tackman lived in a mansion with servants. As long as their friendship stayed within the socially acceptable limits no one objected. In adulthood their friendship becomes a mutual romantic attraction. Ruby wants to marry Boake but he only seems interested in romantic play without commitment. Maybe conscious of his social status or maybe being afraid to offend his snobbish family and conservative hometown folk, he marries a rich girl. Out of revenge Ruby marries Jim Gentry, a recently widowed rich old man to whom many townsfolk and local businesses owe money. When Gentry dies in an accident, the town blames Ruby. A now rich Ruby takes revenge on the town’s folk by calling in their debts and loans. The girl from the swamps has become the town’s biggest nightmare.